Sorry about the long delay (as usual... :P), but here, finally, as promised, is the long-awaited last part of "the Touch of Sight." I would have gotten it out sooner, but I was struck several times with writer's blockthat took me several days each to work through. But here it finally is! Just for your enjoyment! Hope you like it, and I'll see you again down at the bottom!
Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings and all associated characters belong to JRR Tolkien and are not mine, nor are they being used for profit in the telling of this story. Stephen King also gets credit for the wonderful idea I got for this fic from his book "the Dead Zone." Go out and read their both their stuff. That's an order!
Empty darkness. That's all there was or at least all there seemed to be. All around him stretched a seemingly endless void of empty nothingness. There was no movement, no sound. No feeling of time or space. Just peaceful, empty darkness.
He strangely felt like he had been there before, had drifted along this very same currentless tide of nothingness someother time in his life. But he honestly couldn't say for sure. He was just too tired to wonder how he had gotten there. All he knew was that it was still and very peaceful here. A place where he could finally find rest and quietus from all the pain and exhaustion of whatever world he had left behind. All he wanted to do was sleep. To rest his weary body and let his mind drift along this peaceful black void of nothingness forever.
But as he lay letting himself slowly sink away into the welcoming embrace of darkness, he suddenly happened to see in the distance the faint, hazy glow of a dim, grey light. It did not grow or begin to move towards him like he (for whatever reason) thought it might, but rather remained a single, stationary point of soft, glowing light in the distance – like a beacon in a vast sea of endless darkness.
He stared at it for a moment, wondering what he should do before he suddenly realized he was now faced with a choice. The light was not going to come to him like it did before. He had to chose this time whether or not to go back to the light, or remain forever lost to the darkness.
He knew he should go back. Knew that his place was not there in the dark and that there were those that waited for him somewhere just beyond that small portal of dense fog.
But he also knew what hardships awaited him there if he did decide to go back; what weariness, pain, and exhaustion he would once more have to suffer and endure.
He didn't want to go back to that world. He didn't want to hurt anymore. He was tired of hurting. Tired of all the loneliness, pain, and despair he knew waited for him there. All he wanted to do was sleep and rest his weary soul. Here in the darkness it was quiet and still. Here he knew he could finally find rest and no longer have to suffer or hurt. Here he could finally find peace.
For a moment, he almost considered turning away from the light. But as he lay there ready to let himself drift away back into the sweet embrace of nothingness, he suddenly felt the soft, tentative tugof several familiar presences reach out to him across the darkness from that small point of light. He paused for a moment and turned back.
He knew these presences. Who they were he couldn't quite say. But he knew them, and knew that they were calling to him. Trying to urge him back towards the light.
It was then that he knew he had to go back. As much as he might have wanted to stay, he knew his place was not there in the dark. He had to go back.
As if recognizing his decision to go back, the light began to grow and move towards him. Like a thick and heavy fog, it began to circle and close in around him. Surrendering himself to the light, he suddenly felt himself floating up through the fog.
As he continued to rise through the thick curtains of hazy mist that surrounded him, he began to hear the soft murmur of distant voices speaking somewhere beyond the light. He tried to listen and hear what was being said, but all he could catch were short, garbled snippets of conversation as if the ones speaking were fading in and out of his range of hearing.
"... my son... surely something you can do... best healer in Middle-earth..."
"I'm sorry... nothing more I can do... must wait... up to him now..."
The voices sounded so familiar. So agonizingly familiar. But try as he might, he couldn't seem to place them.
He heard the voices drift across the foggy distance again, like faint whispers from another time or place.
"Aragorn... you must rest... haven't left his side yet... won't help..."
"No... won't leave him... not again..."
Why did they sound so familiar? Why did he feel like he should know these voices? And why couldn't he see the ones that seemed so close yet still so far away?
Consumed by these thoughts, he began to strain and struggle against the fog. This was taking too long. He wanted to see who was talking. He wanted to know who they were. Unlike before when he had still been drifting aimlessly through the dark, he now felt an overwhelming need to go back and find the answers to these mysteries.
As he lay there drifting along the fog trying to fight his way towards the voices, he suddenly sawa patch of bright white light through the mist. Turning towards it, he heard another faint echo drift across the foggy distance.
"Come on, elf... wake up... tired of you always sleeping like this..."
The voices... They were coming from that patch of light. That was where they were calling him. That was where he needed to go.
Like a swimmer desperate to reach the surface, he began to struggle even harder towards the elusive sound of voices. But he didn't need to. For just as he began to struggle in earnest, he felt himself begin to rise faster towards the light as if he was being lifted up on a thick pillow of clouds. He relaxed then, letting the fog buoy him up towards his ultimate destination.
As he ascended, the fog began to gradually fade away and the light around him grow brighter and sharper to his senses. He could feel the presences more keenly now, as if they were somewhere right beside him though he still could not see them. The light had since taken on a blinding quality, turning his world of foggy grey mist into a tunnel of brilliant white light.
A wall of blinding white light was now rushing towards him, but he had no fear of it. This was the way to get back to the voices. This was the way to get back to the light.
And then, like breaking the surface of some hazy, underwater dream, he reemerged on the other side...
Legolas slowly blinked his eyed open and into focus. For a moment, he couldn't discern where he was or what he was doing there. All he could be sure of wasthesensationbeing safety and warmth. But as he lay there waiting for his mind to clear, he suddenly remembered in a violent floor of memories everything that had happened right before everything had suddenly gone dark: Harberd, his chase through the streets, the fire, his fight in the burning house, Harberd trying to strangle him to death, smoke choking his lungs as he tried to escape, and then...
Legolas gasped and bolted upright. But before he could pull himself up parallel to the bed he lay in, he was suddenly struck by a sharp bolt of searing pain through the head. Crying out, the elven prince immediately collapsed back down into the pillows, clutching the side of his head.
"Legolas?" a voice rang out somewhere to his right. "Legolas, oh thank the Valar, Legolas! He's awake! He's awake!" he then heard the person jump to his side and begin to shout over him as he lay there with his eyes clenched tightly shut, waiting for his head to stop pounding. "He woke up! He woke up!" the voice continued to excitedly shout.
There came an excited murmur of voices and rustle of movement as he felt several other presences quickly jump up and begin to crowd in around him.
"My son! Let me through! Make way!" Legolas then heard an authoritative voice ring out over the others as he felt several of the other presences crowding around him shoved out of the way and replaced by a strong familiar one close by his side. "Legolas? Legolas, my son, open your eyes," he then heard the voice softly command as he felt a strong, reassuring hand begin to coaxingly stroke the side of his cheek.
Chancing another bolt of pain through his still throbbing head, the elven prince slowly opened his eyes to see a ring of worried faces staring down at him. One of them – the one sitting beside him – leaned down lower. "Legolas?" it inquired hesitantly.
"Ada?" he croaked in a dry, raspy voice as he stared up at the golden haired one leaning over him.
Thranduil's anxious face immediately broke with relief at the sound of his son's voice. "Thank the Valar..." the elven king whispered with a deep sigh of relief. An answering murmur of agreement went up from the other people standing around the prince's bedside. Legolas immediately recognized the other faces hovering over him as belonging to Lord Elrond, Aragorn, Elladan and Elrohir, Faramir, and Gimli. All of them looked tired and worn, as if they had spent many sleepless night holding vigil by his bedside. But although he could see weariness etched into each of their tired faces, there was also undeniable relief and joy.
"Where am I?" he asked, groggily looking around in confusion.
"Your room in the Hall of Kings," Aragorn answered over Thranduil's shoulder with unmasked joy still written across his tired, scruffy looking face. It was then that Legolas suddenly realized it had been Aragorn who had been shouting over him when he first woke up.
"Faramir, will you please go tell Arwen and the Lady Eowyn that Legolas is awake," Elrond interrupted from the other side of the bed, "I am sure they will want to know."
"Of course," the man replied with briefest of nods before turning towards the door with a relievedsmile pulling at thesides of his mouth.
"How do you feel?" Elrond asked as he turned back to Legolas and leaned down over the younger elf.
"Fine, I suppose..." Legolas groaned as he tried to pull himself up into a sitting position again, this time trying more carefully not to jar his throbbing head. Unfortunately though, his attempts to do so were met with failure and an intense wave of dizziness instantly overtook him.
Thranduil and Elrond both saw Legolas falter in his attempt to sit up on his own and immediately came to his aid and helped lift the younger elf up against the headboard of the bed. Leaning back to help steady himself and catch his breath, Legolas reached a hand up to the right side of his head, and there found a thick gauzy bandage wrapped around his head several times. "What happened?" he asked, wincing slightly at the sharp bolt of pain that coursed through his head at the soft, tentative touch.
"You were hit on the head by a falling beam while trying to escape a burning house," Elrond explained as he began to gingerly prob at the side of the prince's bandaged head. Legolas involuntarily hissed under his breath at the pain the touch caused, but otherwise remained stoically calm as the ancient healer continued to gently prob at the area of tender flesh. "You were knocked unconscious by the blow and received quite a serious head injury," he went on to say.
"You were bleeding very badly and hardly breathing when we found you," Elrohir piped up from the foot of Legolas' bed, "We didn't know if we would be able to stop it before we got you back here."
"A right good scare you gave all of us!" Gimli then took the opportunity to cut in, "First you wouldn't wake up, and then Elrond said you might have fallen into another coma... I swear, elf, if you keep this up you're going to kill me!" Despite the dwarf's apparent anger, everyone there knew it was nothing more than overwhelming joy and relief that made Gimli speak so harshly.
"I was in a coma?" Legolas repeated, a strong sense of deja vu instantly griping his stomach. "Please don't tell me I've been asleep another five years!"
"No. No. Nothing quite so long, little one, but you were unconscious for three days," Thranduil soothed, quelling some of his son's immediate panic. "You had us all very worried that you wouldn't wake up again," he then said, gently gripping Legolas' hand in his own as if trying to reassure himself that his son was really there awake and talking, "I feared I'd almost lost you again..."
Legolas, however, was still too much in shock to really listen to his father's words. "I don't understand," he said, numbly shaking his head, "The house was beginning to collapse when I was knocked unconscious. And the fire was spreading so quickly... How did I get out?"
"Aragorn saved you," Elladan said, glancing over at his foster-brother with unmasked pride, "He saw you through one of the windows just as we got there after Gimli raised the alarm. He saw you struck bya falling beam and ran in just as the roof was beginning to collapse. We tried to stop him, but he wouldn't let any of us hold him back. For a while there, we almost thought he got caught in the blaze too when he didn't immediately come back out. But then he finally managed to pull you out just before the whole house went up in flames and collapsed. It was a very close call for both of you..."
Legolas looked up at the man who stood just behind Thranduil, timidly shifting his weight from foot to foot as if embarrassed by his foster-brother's words of praise. Their eyes slowly met and locked onto one another's. Staring back into the man's pale grey eyes, Legolas suddenly realized how glad he was to have a friend like Aragorn. How grateful he was to have a friend that was so willing to watch his back, even if up until now he had seen Aragorn's actions as overprotective and annoying.
"Thank you," he whispered, his eyesconveying all the gratitude and thanks he felt.
Aragorn smiled and nodded his head in acknowledgmentto the elf's silent thanks. He then began to open his mouth to say something, but never got a chance to as Arwen and Eowyn suddenly burst into the room with Faramir not far behind them.
"Where is he? Is he really awake?" Arwen exclaimed, frantically looking around the room until her eyes finally fell on the blonde haired elf. "Oh, Legolas..." she sobbed, a fine mist of tears quickly forming in her pale blue eyes, "I didn't think I was ever going to see you awake again!" Rushing forward (and effectively forcing Thranduil away from his son to make room for her), the queen wrapped the startled prince in a tight embrace. "Don't you ever do that again, do you hear me!" she cried, finally releasing her hold on the elven prince and holding him away at arm's length to look him straight in the eyes.
"I won't," Legolas replied, slightly taken aback by Arwen's uncharacteristic near-hysterics.
As if accepting his promise, Arwen smiled and gave her friend another hug. "It's good to have you back," she said. Then releasing him again, she stood straight and moved aside to let Eowyn in to hug their newly awakened friend.
"It is good to see you awake again," the White Lady of Rohan said as she carefully sat on the edge of Legolas' bed and leaned over to wrap him in a quick embrace over the bulge of her pregnant stomach. "We heard how the killer was one of the White Guards," she then said, leaning back again, "I almost didn't believe it until Gimli told me himself..."
"No wonder we were never able to catch him..." Aragorn muttered, "He was one of the very ones we never thought to suspect. I should have thought of such a possibility–"
"Nay, Aragorn," Legolas rebuked with a shake of his head, "There was no reason for you to have ever suspected one of your own guards to be the very killer you searched for. So do not blame yourself for not catching him earlier. I didn't even think such a thing possible until Harberd accidentally touched me..."
"And a close call that was!" Gimli exclaimed from the foot of the bed, "He very nearly skewered you through the heart once you discovered he was the killer. Luckily for you though, the dwarf was once again there to save you. Otherwise it's almost certain you would be dead, and he would have gotten away to kill again."
Elladan cleared his throat loudly at this. "I fear, Legolas, since you were unconscious for the last several days Gimli was our only source of information as to what happened that night," he said, eyeing the dwarf skeptically out of the corner of his eye, "You might want to recount for us yourself what happened since Gimli might have taken the liberty to embellish certain parts of the story in which he was involved..."
The dwarf in question looked ready to defend his honor against such accusations of embellishment, but was quickly cut off by the elven prince. "Nay," Legolas said, shaking his head, "I do not need to do such a thing. I have no doubt whatever Gimli said was true. He saved my life. If it was not for him I would be dead right now. And for that I am forever in his debt."
"Agh... Now there you go getting all sentimental on me again, elf. What have I told you about doing that?" the dwarf grumbled, a suspicious rosy hue beginning to stain his cheeks. Legolas smiled knowingly and left it at that.
"So that must explain what happened with Erien then," Faramir suddenly blurted out. The others crowding the room all looked up him. "The servant girl Erien," the man quickly reiterated, "The girl Legolas said was going to be the killer's next victim, and who we spent half a day searching for but later found perfectly safe. Harberd was one of the White Guards... That was why she was never attacked!"
"I'm sorry, but I still don't see your point, Faramir," Elrohir said, "What does him being one of the White Guards have to do with Erien being attacked or not?"
"Everything!" the man exclaimed, "Legolas had his vision of her being attacked, and warned Aragorn of it just after she left the palace. Aragorn then rose the alarm that all guards in the city were to report to duty so we could start forming patrols to find her. Harberd would have had to of answered the bells, otherwise, if he had ignored them, we might have eventually begun to suspect he was the killer if he had not reported to duty and we suddenly found another dead girl while he was mysteriously absent!"
Everyone there stood or sat silently mulling Faramir's theory over in their heads.
"Of course..." Legolas then finally murmured after a long moment of contemplative silence, "It all makes perfect sense now. After we went to Erien's house and didn't find her there, Gimli and I went to try and track her from where she would have left the palace. I had a vision while doing so of the killer following her through the streets just before I thought he was about to attack her. My vision cut off before I actually saw it happen, but I still thought Erien had become the killer's next victim. That was why when we later found Erien Iunderstand how she could have gotten away or why Harberd hadn't attacked her. But now it all makes sense! Harberd must have heard the bells calling all guards in the city back to duty just before he was about to attack her. He must have abandoned following her and went back to the Citadel! That was how Erien managed to get away!"
"So your vision of Erien's attack wasn't wrong then," Eowyn noted with something of a hint of smugness in her voice, "Like I said, everything we do in life changes the world around us," she said as she leaned in a bit closer to the elven prince and then softly whispered into his ear, "I knew you weren't wrong..."
Legolas smiled softly. "I suppose warning Aragorn and him sending up the alarm was all it took to actually save her..."
"So then that's where you went after you said you were going to go back to the palace," Aragorn suddenly interrupted. He stared at the elven prince with his arms sternly crossed in front of his chest, "I wondered where you and Gimli had gotten yourselves off to when the messenger I sent couldn't seem to find you. I should have known better than to think you would have actually agreed to my suggestion without more of a fight."
Legolas guiltily winced at the man's assessment, but quickly returned his friend's stern reprove with a small smile. "You didn't honestly think I would let you talk me into going back to the palace and resting after knowing me for all these years, now did you, Aragorn?" he asked.
The man's stern facade instantly crumbled away. "No, not really," he admitted with a begrudged sigh, "I've come to know you very well when it comes to you taking care of yourself. Meaning you don't, and it's usually me that has to do that for you."
"You know me too well then," Legolas replied with a light-hearted smile which was instantly returned by his friend. Then remembering what Elladan had said earlier about Aragorn saving his life from the burning building, somberly added in a quiet whisper, "I really do thank you for before..."
Needing no explanation as to what the elf was talking about, the man quietly slipped to the elven prince's side. "There is no reason to thank me, Legolas, he said, sitting on the edge of Legolas' bed as Eowyn quietly moved out of the way with a smile to go stand by her husband at the foot of the bed, "I would do anything for you. I am just glad that you are finally back. You do not know how worried I was when you wouldn't wake up. I thought I might go mad with guilt when I thought you might never wake up and I would never get a chance to apologize for everything I said that night before we went out on patrols. I didn't mean to say those things. I don't want you to think that I actually meant them. I–"
"Aragorn," Legolas quickly cut in, "You have nothing to apologize for. If anything, I should be the one apologizing for how I acted before. I was being irrational and stubborn. In a way I knew what you were saying was with my best interest in mind, but I was still too set on wanting to catch the killer myself to listen to what you were trying to say. And you were right. I should have never gone out on my own like that. When I was trying to stall Halberd until Gimli could warn you and get reenforcements, he very nearly killed me several times. You were right. I was too weak from my visions and trying to pretend to myself and everyone else that I was perfectly fine to have gone out trying to find him. If it hadn't been for you when I was knocked unconscious, I would be dead right now. For that, it is I that should apologize and thank you."
"But if you hadn't gone out, Legolas, you would have never discovered it was Harberd that was the killer. He would still be roaming the streets killing right now if it wasn't for you. For that, it is I that should apologize and be thanking you for finally putting an end to all this," Aragorn protested stubbornly.
Shaking his head in helpless realization that he and his friend would never actually come to an agreement, Legolas gave a small, laughing sigh. "Perhaps, Aragorn, so as not to spend forever arguing one another about this, we should just agree never to speak of what happened that night again," he said, earning himself a small chuckle from the man.
"Perhaps you are right..." Aragorn agreed with a laugh, nodding his head in acceptance to the elf's proposal. "I am just glad that all this is finally over and you are finally back," he then softly whispered as he reached out and gently gripped the elf's boney shoulder in his hand.
Smiling softly, the elven prince returned the man's gesture and placed his own hand on Aragorn's shoulder. "So am I..." he whispered, looking into the man's eyes before then slowly looking around him at the ring of people standing around his bed. Surrounded by the warmth and love of his friends and family Legolas suddenly knew Aragorn was right. All the horrors of his search for the mysterious killer were finally over. Harberd was dead, and everything he had suffered and strived to fulfill were done. The souls of all the young girls to have ever met their end by the man's cruel killing spree could finally rest in peace knowing their deaths had finally been avenged. He had fulfilled his mission and task. It was now time for him to move on and begin anew. Today was the first day of the rest of his life. He was finally truly back.
"So am I, Aragorn..." he softly whispered under his breath again, "So am I..."
In the days following Harberd's defeat, it was like some kind of magic inhibitor was suddenly removed from over the elven prince. Not only did he quickly recover from his head wound and several other minor injuries he sustained while trying to escape the burning house, but he also began to make other noticeably drastic improvements in his overall health and appearance. As the weeks progressed, he began to slowly gain more weight and regain more of his former strength as if whatever had been previously hindering him from making such improvements before was suddenly gone. He no longer felt perpetually weak or exhausted, and began to slowly regain even more of his ability to walk. Within a week of his recovery he no longer had to rely on his cane because of his now steadily diminishing limp, and gratefully retired the dwarf's gift from use. He did however vow to forever keep it as a memento of his and Gimli's friendship together and as a lasting reminder of how the dwarf had stood by him throughout the entire ordeal the last few months.
Legolas' light-hearted spirit began to return, and as time wore on, he began to feel more and more like his former self before his near-fatal accident and coma. A certain light began to once again shine in his pale blue eyes. And for the first time since waking out of his coma, a small, carefree smile could almost always be seen gracing the elf's now bright and shining face.
But more than any of these other things, the most noticeable change to the elven prince himself was his sudden lack of visions. No longer was he plagued by visions of second-sight or psychic premonitions of the past or future whenever he happened to touched something or was touched by someone else. Since waking out of his near second coma, he found that it was like all of his psychic abilities had vanished. Not even when he physically tried could he detect even the slightest twinge of a vision.
But even more than that, was the fact that on one of his follow up examinations to Lord Elrond after his fight with Harberd, it was discovered that the streak of white hair growing on the left side of his head from his initial accident seemed to have started to grow back blonde! For there, at the base of every snowy white strand was a tiny length of bright golden hair.
This discovery at first was met with mixed reactions of disbelief and doubt by Elrond and almost everyone else (the elven prince himself included), but when informed of Legolas' sudden lack of visions, a theory began to form in the ancient elf lord's head. Perhaps the second blow to Legolas' head while trying to escape the killer's house had somehow reversed the effects the first injury to Legolas' head had caused. Perhaps by being struck again, or perhaps by being hit on the other side of the head, Legolas' powers of second-sight had somehow been nullified.
Legolas himself was not quite sure what to believe, but there was no denying that since being struck on the head he had not experienced any more visions, or felt as if he was being slowly drained of energy as he did when he still had his powers of second-sight. Besides Lord Elrond's theory to the sudden disappearance of his psychic powers, Legolas had nothing elsewith which to explain his sudden lack of visions or drastic improvement in health. But as time went on and more days passed without experiencing any kind of visions, Legolas began to no longer care how his powers had disappeared. All he knew was that they were gone and he was no longer haunted by unexplainable, frightening images of the past or future.
For as Aragorn once said, and what Legolas now truly believed, it was finally truly over, and he could finally begin to live a normal life once again...
"So you're planning to return to Ithilien sometime within the month?" Gimli asked as he and his companion slowly made their way up towards the great front entrance of the Hall of Kings.
"Yes. Elrond sent a missive to Ithilien sometime after I first came out of my coma saying I had finally woken," Legolas said with a smile, "Thalion's already made preparations for me to retake my position there as Lord as soon as I am fully recovered and able to return."
"Thalion? Wasn't he the elf that took over Ithilien for you while you were in your coma?" Gimli asked. At Legolas' nod of affirmation, Gimli gave a small snort. "Kind of eager to hand rule of your colony back over to you, don't you think?" he noted dryly.
Legolas chuckled softly. "You don't know Thalion. He is a skilled and loyal elf, but he has never enjoyed being charged with sole leadership of a group. He prefers rather to use his leadership skills under the direction of another. He wrote me sometime ago and said he was overjoyed when he first heard I had finally come out of my coma, and that he had already started making plans of returning Ithilien's rule back to me before Iwas even able to stand and walk on my own. He says after five years of leading our colony, he is more than ready to let me take over those responsibilities again."
"I suppose that's good news..." Gimli murmured with a thoughtful nod, "So I guess that means I can finally go back to the Glittering Caves. I mean, I've spent two more months here in Minas Tirith than what I was originally planningto since you finally decided to come out of that coma and return to the land of the living. It's not like I didn't have anything else to do back in Aglarond before you suddenly decided to drag me into this whole mess of psychic visions and mysterious killers! Before you came back I was perfectly happy in my mountains. But now it looks like I'm going to have to start visiting you in that colony of your again to make sure you don't start getting yourself into any trouble there too!"
Legolas smiled at the stout little dwarf walking beside him fondly. As much as Gimli was trying to hide it, Legolas knew his friend was feeling just as every bit torn by the thought of his impending departure from Minas Tirith as he was. He did not want to part company with his friends just yet. He was going to miss them too much. Especially Gimli after everything they had experienced together since he first woke out of his coma more than two months before. There were just some things Legolas knew he was never going to be able to thank Gimli for during that time. One of thembeing how the dwarf had stood beside him and helping him learn to cope with his new found powers of second-sight and regaining his ability to walk. Without the dwarf's steadfast encouragement and support, Legolas doubted he would have been able to survive those first few weeks. And now to be thinking of parting with one of his closest friends was already starting to send pangs of heartache through the prince's heart as he knew it was for his stout little companion.
Gimli seemed to sense Legolas' unspoken knowledge of his inner thoughts and cleared his throat loudly in embarrassment. He hated it how the elf always seemed able to read his inner emotions like that. "So is that father of yours finally planning to return to Mirkwood now that you're back up and able to take care of yourself again without him constantly watching over you?" Gimli quickly went on to ask, eager to move their conversation away from heartfelt matters toother subjects he felt more comfortable discussing in open public.
Legolas just shook his head in fond exasperation at his friend's ongoing inability to just express his emotions, and replied saying, "No. And what have I told you about you calling my home Mirkwood? It's Eryn Lasgalen. It hasn't been called Mirkwood now for almost eight years. Please don't tell me your memory is already starting to get that bad that you can't even remember what my homeland's original name is..."
"Whatever, elf..." Gimli dismissed with an offhanded wave, "What do you mean Thranduil isn't going back home? Isn't he needed there as king?"
"Yes, but he has decided to use the time hecame to Gondor with to also come and visit my colony in Ithilien before he goes back home. He says he wants to inspect what developments the colony's made since I've been gone, but I think it's really just an excuse to prolong his visit."
"Your fathercares foryou, that's all. Even I can see that," the dwarf grunted. "You should have seen him after you got hit on the head that second time, or the time before when you had that vision in the House of Healing. I swear it's only around you that he ever seems to act like anormal person."
"Perhaps..." Legolas conceded with a nod, "But as much as I appreciate my father's concern for me, he needs to understand that I am not an elfling anymore. I have recovered from my injuries and am perfectly capable now of living my own life once again..."
Gimli glanced up at his companion out the corner of his eye. Only a week or so ago, Gimli might have disagreed and said Legolas was just trying to convince himself that he was fine when it was almost painfully obvious he wasn't. Now, however, that wasn't so much the case. There was no longer denying that Legolas was starting to look more and more like his former self. For one thing, Legolas no longer looked like a walking skeleton. Since waking from his second head injury, the elf had begun to regain more weight, making his once thin and gangly form more graceful and lithe like it had been before his coma five years before. His skin had also begun to glow more with the inner immortal light Gimli was so used to seeing coming from those of the elven race, as if it somehow shined brighter now and burned more fiercely with life than ever before. And though Legolas still walked with a slight limp on his left side, it was now almost completely unnoticeable except to those that knew to look for it.
Yes, Gimli had to admit, Legolas was fine. And he could only hope that things would continue to improve for the elf until it was almost like nothing had ever happened at all.
The two friends continued on through the winding hallways of the Citadel for several minutes of silence before once again beginning talk of their excursion into the city they had just returned from. But as the two were about to turn down the hall that led to the royal guestrooms and living quarters, a sudden shout from behind them made both elf and dwarf give pause and turn around to address their unknown caller.
Who they saw running up to meet them though, instantly brought a smile to the elven prince's face. "Erien!" he called, raising a hand in greeting to the servant girl as she rushed over towards where they stood.
"Lord Legolas! Lord Gimli!" she panted, finally coming to a stop in front of them. Her hair was tousled and face flushed with urgency. "Where have you been? I have been trying to find you now for almost an hour. Lord Elessar sent me and several other pages out looking for you."
"Why? What's happened?" Legolas demanded.
"It's the Lady Eowyn," the girl replied, "She went into labor some time ago. Everyone else in the household was informed, but when the king sent a messenger to tell you, he couldn't find you anywhere in the palace. We've been trying to find you ever since."
"Eowyn..." Legolas whispered, the girl's words only slowly beginning to make sense to his jumbled mind. It really shouldn't have come as that big of a shock to the elven prince that the lady had finally gone into labor since over the last several weeks of her pregnancy she had begun to grow so heavy with child that it looked as if she was about to burst at the middle. But still the initial surprise and excitement at the news was not lost on the elven prince. "She's having her baby now? Where is she?" he quickly demanded.
"Her's and Lord Faramir's chambers," Erien replied.
"How far along is she?" the elf hurriedly called back over his shoulder as he and Gimli instantly turned and rushed off in the direction of the Steward's apartments without really even waiting for the girl's answer.
"I'm not sure, my Lord," Erien called after them, "But it was over several hours ago that the Lady starting having labor pains..."
Despite Legolas and Gimli's haste to reach the Steward's rooms, they were unable to arrive there in time to welcome Eowyn and Faramir's second child into the world. For by the time they did get there, it was found that the Lord and Lady's new baby had already been delivered and was almost half an hour old. As the elf and dwarf were finally ushered into Eowyn and Faramir's chambers they were unsurprised to find most of their other friends already crowding the room and congratulating the new parents over the latest addition to the Steward's growing family. Among themwere the king and queen of Gondor, the twin sons of Elrond, the Lord of Imladris himself, even the king of Mirkwood, and the Steward's young son, Theomir sitting beside his father near the edge of the large bed.
"Legolas! Gimli!" Faramir called as he noticed the two walking through the door, "You've missed all the excitement! Where have you two been? We were beginning to wonder where you two had gotten yourselves to."
"Gimli and I were out in the city most of the day. We only just got back and heard what happened several minutes ago," Legolas replied, noting the proud expression lighting the new father's face.
"Well, whatever the case, you're here now," Faramir dismissed with an offhanded wave. "Now come, come! You must come see our daughter," he said, enthusiastically waving the elf and dwarf closer towards the large bed on the other side of the room where his wife sat sitting against the plush pillows of the bedwith a tiny swaddled bundle in her arms.
"A girl?" Legolas repeated with a smile as he made his way across the room and shared a secretive, knowing glance with Eowyn as heneared the lady's bedside.
"Yes, a girl..." Eowyn replied with an answering smile, "We've named her Lelith"
"Lelith... What a beautiful name," the elven prince cooed as he leaned over and gazed at the newborn infant. A golden spray of soft, downy hair crowned the baby's head and shined like golden silk in the faint February light filtering in through the nearby windows.
"Do you like Lelith?" Theomir's tiny little voice piped up from the side of Eowyn's bed where he sat watching the elf from his mother's side.
"I love her, Theomir," he replied, gently stroking the baby's cheek with the back of one long, elegant finger, all the while marveling at the silky softness of newborn baby's skin, "She's absolutely beautiful..."
"Would you like to hold her?" Eowyn asked.
"Oh... I'm not sure..." Legolas hesitated. Though the elven prince was known for his love of children, it was also true that because of his descendence from the immortal race of Elves, he had rarely ever had the opportunity to see, let alone have many interactions with newborn infants or very young babies, and found himself somewhat frightened by the prospect of the Eowyn's offer.
"Aw, come on, elf! Don't tell me you're scared of such a tiny little thing. She couldn't possibly hurt you," Gimli teased, enjoying the spark of fear hesaw flash across the elf's eyes at the lady's innocent offer.
"Would you like to hold her then, Master Dwarf?" Eowyn asked,holding the baby in her arms out as if in invitation for the dwarf to take it. Gimli, however, did not answer, and visibly paled as he took several steps away from the bed as if to gain asafe distance between himself and the object of his unadmitted fear.
"Come, Legolas. Why don't you hold the baby?" Aragorn urged from the foot of the bed.
Unable to protest any longer, Legolas let himself be pushed back into a nearby chairbeside Eowyn's bed, and accepted the warm tiny bundle that was gently passed over from Eowyn into his arms by the baby's father. As Legolas settled back into his chair, Lelith seemed to finally decide to blink her eyes open, and sleepily gazed up at the handsome, golden face staring down at her. Pale blue were the baby's eyes, flecked with specks of pearly grey. Legolas smileddown at herand shifted the infant into a more comfortable position against his chest, her tiny body instantly curling into the crook of his arm in memory of her mother's womb.
"Hello, little one," he said, letting the tip of his finger gently trace the curvature of the newborn's soft, chubby cheek before fitting it into the reflexive grip of the infant's tiny fist. A wide, toothless yawn was his only reply. "I can tell you are going to be strong like your mother..." he whispered, awe-struck by the tiny little fingers still wrapped around his own as he watched the baby's eyes grow heavy once again and slowly drift shut into dreamless, milky sleep.
As if taking this opportunity to finally slip from his mother's side, Theomir jumped up and insistently crawled up into the elf's lap alongside his infant sister.
"You don't like her more than me now, do you, Leg'lass?" he implored almostpitifully, searching the prince's face for answers as he finally settled himselfin the elf's lap.
"Of course not," Legolas replied with a soft chuckle as he hugged the boy close to him in reassurance, "I like each of you equally well, as do your parents. I can tell you're going to be a good older brother to Lelith, aren't you?" Theomir nodded his head enthusiastically.
Legolas smiled and leaned back in his chair. Sitting there cradlinga tiny new life in one arm and balancing the young boy on his knee with the other, Legolas was suddenly overcome by an intense wave of peace and contentment. After all the pain and fear he had suffered since returning from his five year coma, Legolas suddenly knew for certain he was glad to have made it through and survived to see this. For if nothing else, this tender moment he shared right now with the Steward's two children would forever live on in his memories to the end of his days, always reminding him even when memories of his ordeal with Harberd and his frightening experiences with second-sight resurfaced to haunt him that there was still life and light in this world, something worth him fighting for and living to see.
For several long minutes of silence he sat there, cradling the tiny infant in his arms and hugging Theomir to him with all the love he held for the innocent young boy. But as he gazed down at the sleeping infant in his arms and gently ran a finger once again over the curve of her plump little cheek, he was suddenly distracted out of his thoughts by a small tingle in the back of his mind.
He must have unknowingly given a soft gasp of surprise at the sudden, odd sensation, for everyone else there in the room immediately lookedover at him with concern in their eyes. But Legolas did not notice them. For as he sat there, he felt the insistent tingle slowly begin to grow and spread to the foremost part of his mind.
Those watching the elven prince suddenly saw the inner circles of Legolas' eyes darken to a sharp, obsidian shade of black.
And then, in a sudden burst of light, he could see.
Mwa ha ha!!! Not only am I obsessed with evil cliffhangers, but now I have fallen into the temptation of evil endings! Mwa ha ha!!!
I'd just like to take the time now to thank everyone that stuck through me on this entire roller coaster ride of Legolas angst. From infrequent updates to having my story temporarily removed from this site, you people have truly humbled me with your tremendous outpouring of love for this story. Without any of you, I don't think I would have been able to finish this. I would list and personally thank everyone that's ever reviewed this story, but since it was taken off and I lost several hundred of my reviews, I fear I would probably miss somebody and fail to mention their support. So I just won't. Instead, I'd again like to thank each and every one of you that has every read and/or reviewed this story. You people truly are awesome.
As some of you have been wondering, now that ToS is officially done, I will now be returning my attention to my two other neglected LOTR stories. I plan on now working to finish "Writings on the Sword" and getting you all another update for "They Came Upon A Midnight Clear." If any of you out there haven't ever read any of my other fics, I'm going to now shamelessly suggest that you go and check those out too. (Sorry... but you knew that was coming... )
Anyway, thank you again to all you wonderful people. I hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. And so I leave you now once again with my infamous question:
Did you like it? Hate it? Even if you totally abhor reviewing and have never done so before for this fic, don't feel shy about coming out of hiding now and telling me what you thought of it.
'Til we meet again in another update of one of my other stories